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Your source for GNU/Linux news, reviews and HOWTO guides. And some K-pop news too.

Breaking News

  • GNU make 4.3 Is Released
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    The GNU project has very quietly released a major update to the make utility used to compile the vast majority of free software programs. It has been almost four years since make 4.2 was released in May 2016. The latest version supports specifying a -j job number in Makefiles, the job limit under Windows has been raised from 63 to 4095 and support for newer versions of the GNU libc and musl C runtime libraries is added.
  • Microsoft WordPad 2020 Will Contain In-App Advertisements
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    The current "Insider Preview" version of the WordPad word processor bundled with the Windows 10 operating system contains subtle advertisements for Microsoft's online office suite. Free software alternatives do not have that problem and they will, unlike the Microsoft alternative, work without an Internet connection.
  • Wine 5.0 Is Released With Multi-Monitor Support, Vulkan 1.1 Support and New XAudio2 re-implementation
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    The Wine compatibility layer for running Windows software on GNU/Linux systems has come a really long way Wine 4.0 was released exactly one year ago on January 22nd, 2019. More than 7400 changes by 1718 people went into the Wine 5.0 release. Wine is now at a point where it can be used to run the vast majority of Windows applications, and games, with no issues.
  • Per-Process Bandwidth Monitor Bandwhich 0.10.0 Is Released
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    Bandwidth is a different kind of cli bandwidth monitoring tool for Linux and macOS written in Rust. It can show per-process and per-connection bandwidth usa by matching traffic to processes using /proc (or lsof on macOS). It has been in development since November 2019. The latest release adds IPv6 support and the ability to choose what tables are shown in the interface.

Quote of the week

"this: (..) is just complete gibberish. And I have no idea what problem you're trying to solve how. (..) So what you're doing is, mark the CPU 'idle' when the MPERF/TSC ratio < 1%, and then frob the vruntime such that it will hopefully preempt. That's pretty disgusting."

Peter Zijlstra in a message regarding
"sched/fair: Penalty the cfs task which executes mwait/hlt" patch
on the Linux Kernel Mailing List, January 8th, 2020

Latest software reviews

  • Sysbench
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    sysbench is a cli benchmark tool capable of doing general-purpose benchmarks of CPU, memory, I/O performance as well more specialized benchmarks. It is based on LuaJIT. It is mostly useful for testing server and VPS performance as it lacks any support for testing graphics performance and other desktop-oriented features.
  • Pure python QR Code generator
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    The Pure python QR Code generator is a QR-code library which comes with a command-line utility capable of making images with QR codes in text, PNG and SVG formats. It is a handy little tool to use if you ever need to generate images with QR codes.
  • Bandwhich
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    bandwhich is a terminal network monitoring utility capable of showing bandwidth use by process and connection on all or a single network interface. It is written in Rust and it has been in development since November 2019. It is capable of showing network use on a single interface correctly but it is wildly off when it comes to special interfaces like bridges and bonds.

Hot News

  • Norwegian Study Finds The Online Advertisement Industry To Be "OUT OF CONTROL"
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    The Norwegian Consumer Protection Agency "Forbrukerrådet" has spent millions of Norwegian government oil and tax money on a study which finds that the online advertising industry is "OUT OF CONTROL". The study focused on well-known smartphone applications. All of the apps examined were found to be collecting and sharing data in direct violation of European law.
  • GParted 1.1.0 Is Released
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    The latest version of the best graphical disk partitioning tool for GNU/Linux can recognize ATARAID members, calculate JFS disk sizes accurately and move locked LUKS partitions. GParted is available as both a distribution and a stand-alone utility. Only the disk utility has been updated to v1.1.0, updated versions of the GParted distribution are not yet available.
  • Firefox 72.0.2 Is Released
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    Firefox 72.0.2 disables double buffering for video playback on Windows after several reports of video stuttering. It also fixes a bug which prevented it from opening files with a whitespace on Windows, a hang when opening the about:logins page to view stored passwords on all platforms and a rendering issue causing CSS tags to be ignored in some cases.
  • Vulkan 1.2 Specification Finalized, Linux Support In Place
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    The Khronos Group has published the final specification for version 1.2 of the Vulkan graphics API. It adds 23 extensions to the core API and it brings features like timeline semaphores synchronization and a formal memory model. Mesa already supports most of the extensions which were added to the core specification and Mesa 20, expected to be released towards the end of February, will have full Vulkan 1.2 support.
  • Linux 5.5rc7 Is Released
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    Linux 5.5 will be released next week barring any huge and important last minute patches. Now much was changed in rc7 since the last release candidate with the majority of patches arriving the last two days. There is nothing ground-breaking in the changelog, only minor fixes in the various sub-systems.
  • AMD Confirms "Big Navi" GPU Coming In 2020
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    AMD has published a video interview with AMDs CEO Lisa Su at CES 2020 on their YouTube channel where Dr. Su confirms that AMD will be bringing a "Big Navi" GPU product to market in 2020. She did not provide any details what so ever beyond that. The only thing we can say for sure is that it will have more than the 40 compute units the currently biggest RX 5700 XT Navi GPU has.
  • SeaMonkey 2.53.1 Beta 1 Is Released: Not Fully Abandoned Abandonware
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    FreeBSD declared Seamonkey (and Pale Moon) to be "abandonware" in April 2019. The SeaMonkey Internet Suite is still alive as evidenced by a new beta release on January 18th, 2020. The web browser component uses the rendering engine from Firefox ESR 60.3 and the e-mail component uses code from Thunderbird 60.3. The user interface is still the same classic interface Seamonkey has had for 20+ years with one minor difference: The latest release uses GTK3 to draw it.
  • Xfce4-whiskermenu-plugin 2.3.5 Released
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    The latest version of the optional "whiskermenu" for the Xfce desktop environment has 6 bug fixes and updated documentation. A better fallback value for menu opacity is one of the high-lights in this release.
  • Mozilla Fires 70 Employees, Apple Offers New Jobs
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    The Mozilla Corporation has laid off 70 employees, experienced programmers and senior engineers, due to business difficulties and declining revenue. A dwindling Firefox marketshare combined with a failure to make money on its subscription services has reduced Mozilla's revenue to the point where layoffs are necessary.
  • Wine 5.0-rc6 Is Released With 21 Bug-Fixes
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    Wine 5.0-rc6 is the last release-candidate before 5.0 release next week "barring any last minute issue". 21 bugs have been fixed since Wine 5.0-rc5. Wine 5.0 is shaping up to be a great release for those who want to run Windows games on their GNU/Linux machines. A lot of progress has been made since Wine 4.0 was released in January 2019.
  • Red Hat Recommends Disabling Hardware Acceleration on Intel Integrated Graphics Due To Hardware Flaw
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    Red Hat has issued guidance for the latest Intel CPU hardware bug which, unlike Meltdown and other widely publicized hardware flaws in Intel CPU products, affects the GPU part of Intel chips (if they have one). The proposed "solution" is a bit dramatic: just disable hardware acceleration and you'll be fine - unless you would like to watch videos or play games or do anything else in a graphical environment for that matter.
  • CentOS 8.1 Released With New Security Tools For Servers And Containers
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    CentOS 8.1 (1911) is a free rebuild of the commercial GNU/Linux distribution Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8.1. The latest version supports live kernel patching and live conversion of LUKS1 images to LUKS2. Most of the improvements in this release are for containers and hybrid cloud deployments. Commonly used server-packages like Node.js, PHP, nginx and Ruby have been updated to newer versions.
  • GNU sed 4.8 Is Released
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    The GNU project has released a new major version of the sed stream editor after more than a year of development. The latest version has "s/many new exiting features/one noteworthy bug fix/g". sed -i will, as of the latest version, set the correct umask when files are saved.
  • Latest Linux Kernels Fix Security Flaw In The Intel Processors With iGPUs
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    Linux 5.4.12 as well as updates to the stable branch kernels released on Tuesday have a security patch for Intel processors with Gen9 graphics which addresses a vulnerability that could be used for "information disclosure via local access". Older Intel chips are also affected. The details for CVE-2019-14615 have not been made public.

Older news:

Check out the news archive for more news.

Recent software reviews

  • Privacy Browser
    Privacy Browser is a web browser for Android which does more to protect your privacy than any other web browser. It has built-in advertisement blocking, tracker blocking and a easy button for toggling JavaScript on and off on a per-site basis.
  • GParted
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    GParted is a disk partition editor for creating, resizing, removing, moving and copying disk partitions and file systems. It it written in C++ and it uses gtkmm for its graphical GTK interface. It is the go-to disk partition utility on GNU/Linux systems.
  • Vkmark
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    vkmark is in principle a Vulkan graphics benchmark application for GNU/Linux. It renders a variety of not very advanced scenes and gives you a ball-park idea of how your graphics setup performs when it renders graphical content using the Vulkan API. It is not that useful.
  • Pale Moon
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    Pale Moon is a web browser for Linux and Windows which is based on a Firefox fork in 2009. The interface is very similar to what Firefox had when it forked, it is very much like using a very old Firefox version with a more updated rendering engine. Web pages render fine, the majority of pages work as they should. It is overall a fine browser which is worth a look if you liked the interface Firefox had before they modernized it.
  • GNOME Maps
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    GNOME Maps is a free software map application capable of showing a simple map using the OpenStreetMap map database. It has a regular map view, a satellite map view and a route planner which is useless for practical purposes. It has search bar on top of the map screen. There is no offline support, using the application requires a preferably fast Internet connection. There are no advanced features, no configuration options or anything beyond the bare-bone basics already mentioned. You can use GNOME Maps to lookup a location and see it on a map and that's it.
  • OSMand
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    OSMand is a very advanced and highly usable free software map and navigation program for Android. It supports downloading map packages of geographical areas or countries for completely offline navigation, using it does not require any online connectivity.
  • Secret Maryo Chronicles
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    Secret Maryo Chronicles (smc) is a free software 2D jump and run platform game very similar to the classic Super Nintendo "Super Mario" game. The gameplay is essentially the same. The graphics is much, much better. Secret Maryo Chronicles is made using SDL and it uses OpenGL to draw high-quality graphics. It is essentially like playing the old Super Mario game with prettier and more modern graphics.
  • Waifu2x
    waifu2x is a highly praised image up-scaler which does slightly better job than most other tools and filters when it comes to image up-scaling. The original version is Windows-only and it requires a NVidia GPU. GNU/Linux users can compile and use a fork which uses OpenGL.
  • Celluloid
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    Celluloid is a basic and easy to use GTK-based video player which uses mpv for the actual video playback. It has a playlist and either buttons or menu options for choosing video track, audio track and subtitle track and that is the extent of its features. It offers very little beyond what is available in mpvs on-screen controls which makes it a somewhat pointless mpv front-end.
  • Linux Mint
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    Linux Mint is a GNU/Linux distribution most notable for its distinct green and black branding. It it based on Ubuntu Linux LTS releases with the latest (as of early 2020) Linux Mint 19.3 release based on Ubuntu 18.04. It is available as live ISO images with either Cinnamon, MATE or Xfce. Linux Mint adds its own branding, some custom configuration files and newer versions of Cinnamon and MATE to its Ubuntu LTS variant. The differences beyond that are minor.

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